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Tradition and Dogma

As a part of fly fishing, fly casting is more than a personal interest or activity, it’s part of a tradition. Dogma, however, while being all too common, is not part of a tradition. In fact I would argue it is the opposite of a living tradition which behoves us to keep an open mind and remain well, curious. Tradition inspires. Dogma dictates. In my view fly casting needs to embrace tradition and exclude dogma.

Here’s part of something I wrote about 16 years ago. (The subject was “What is a Fly” in the context of fly tying.) I haven’t changed my mind since then.

“Two of the great things about fly fishing are that it has a long history and a bright future. The long history gives us a tradition and in the age of discontinuity it’s very reassuring to have something like a tradition to hold on to. Tradition is a rope that leads back a long way and has been worked by many hands, recognisably just like ours.

To try to fix for any or all time “what is a fly” is to be pulled backwards by the rope of tradition instead of drawn forwards in the act of continuing to build it. Once you spend more time making sure you are still attached than making sure you are still going forward, the rope of tradition soon turns into the chains of dogma. More trees than fish are caught on this type of back cast.”

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